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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK
'Skin cell' bandages treat burns
Burnt leg
Myskin helped one boy's leg to begin healing after just three days.
People with severe burns or diabetic wounds could benefit from "living" bandages made of their own skin cells, according to UK researchers.

Called "Myskin", the treatment involves the growing of healthy skin cells on small discs.

These are then applied to the wound, helping new skin to grow.

Myskin was created by a team at Sheffield company CellTran, and funded by the Wellcome Trust and the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund.

Around three million people in the UK suffer chronic wounds each year, including 1,000 severe burns and 5,000 foot or toe amputations due to diabetes.

Myskin was officially launched at the British Burn Association's meeting on Tuesday.

Faster and simpler

The skin cells are usually taken from the thigh, under local anaesthetic, and then grown on a small disc in a laboratory. This process takes five to seven days.

They are then placed directly on to the wound and the area is wrapped in bandages.

Once applied, the discs release the cells and help new layers of skin to grow.

According to Professor Sheila MacNeil, from the University of Sheffield, who helped develop Myskin, this new technology is faster and simpler than other methods.

"It is a convenient way of using the patient's own cells to heal wounds," she said.

"This is a simple dressing to take laboratory expanded cells and deliver them back to patients' wounds."

Similar technology has been used before, however this is the first time cells have actually been placed directly on to a patient's wound via a bandage.

Other approaches

Professor MacNeil told BBC News Online other methods to grow the cells took up to 12 days and involved a much more complicated process.

"This is probably going to prove to be the most convenient, quick and robust method," she said.

However, the process could never replace skin grafting as a first line treatment for burns.

"This is an addition to skin grafting - but for major burns there sometimes isn't enough to go round, so you need a few extra tricks."

Initial results from patients treated with Myskin have shown to be promising.

David Ralston, burns and plastic surgeon who also helped develop the bandages, said: "The patients we treated had been badly burned, but after use of Myskin - in addition to skin grafting - they all made good recoveries.

"They also reported feeling relief from pain pretty quickly, which is obviously a crucial factor in injuries as severe as these."

Dr Sandip Pal, consultant anaesthetist at St Andrews Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, said Myskin appeared to have potential.

"Right now we are using a process which takes two to three weeks to develop the skin cells in a laboratory."

However, he said some centres in the UK were using other new and effective methods, such as spraying skin cells on to the wound to stimulate healing.

New treatment for burns victims
29 Oct 03  |  South Yorkshire
No-scar skin graft promise
27 Nov 02  |  Health

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